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Cohoes resident charged after fire destroys several buildings, damages others

State of Emergency declared after fire destroys several buildings, damages others (WRGB)

COHOES, NY (WRGB) Mayor Shawn Morse says John Gomes was burning material in a barrel behind the building where he lives on Remsen Street when heavy winds carried burning particles to other buildings that went up in flames.

Police say when detectives arrived on scene, they interviewed neighbors that led them to Gomes who police say made statements incriminating himself in the cause of the fire.

Now the mayor says while the arson may not have been intentional, he says it resulted in one of the biggest tragedies in the city's history.

"We often tell people we don't allow open burns in the city and they often say 'well why? What's the worst thing that could happen?' well, this open burn just caused millions of dollars in damage and it has destroyed half of our downtown that we worked so hard to rebuild."

The mayor says upwards of 20 buildings have been affected.

He says staples in the community are completely destroyed.

The popular restaurant Smith's is severely damaged, along with a sushi restaurant and other downtown businesses and - not to mention people's homes that have fire, smoke, and water damage.

But the mayor says the city will pull through this devastation together.

"Cohoes is a resilient city, we are going to rebuild and we're going to be better than we ever have been. I know that the citizens are going to depend on our leadership and we're going to excel and we're going to make them Cohoes proud, that's we talk about all the time. I just ask them to be patient because there's a lot of work to be done."

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UPDATE: Charges are reckless endangerment, and arson.

John Gomes was sent to Albany County Jail, on $15,000 bail.


UPDATE: Mayor Morse says there will be an arraignment this evening in connection with the fire.


UPDATE: Mayor Shawn Morse has said he will declare a State of Emergency for the City of Cohoes, as fire spreads to two more buildings.

CDTA has rerouted two of its bus lines in accordance with the state of emergency.



COHOES, NY (WRGB) -- Multiple fire crews were on scene battling a fire on Remsen Street.

Crews arrived to the area of 228 Remsen Street. Flames can bee seen tearing through a 3 floor brick building.

The Fire Chief says that two three story brick buildings where destroyed in the fire.

Another building half a block away was also damaged, as well as Smyth's Restaurant was damaged by burning embers, as many as 17 buildings are impacted by the fire according to the Fire Chief.

Mayor Shawn Morse says there were some minor injuries, saying that the fire "breaks his heart".


Witnesses say smoke can be seen from 787.


Remsen Street is closed. The Cohoes City School District in a tweet says that students that students that walk from Abram Lansing will be held at the school.


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